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'Ahead of the time' - Jaidi on lessons learned from Big Sam

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Radhi Jaidi learnt a lot from playing under Sam Allardyce at Wanderers – but now he’s the one tasked with developing players.

Jaidi is currently assistant manager at Belgian club Cercle Brugge, having previously managed Southampton’s under-23s among other roles.

The 48-year-old reflected on moving to England to play in the Premier League and what he gained from being part of the Bolton squad.

“It was a bit of a culture shock for me to deal with,” he told Training Ground Guru. “Maybe I came old, but that helped me to integrate myself and was key.

“At that time, I think we had 15 different nationalities and the club had a psychologist, sports science and a vast performance team that included player care.

“That was a key that helped me and some others to integrate quickly. Me and my family at that time needed that external hub.

“It helped us focus on our job as players, Bolton were ahead of the time. I discovered the real professionalism that answered a lot of the questions I had as a youngster.”

Jaidi was part of a star-studded dressing room at Wanderers, playing alongside the likes of Jay Kay Okocha, Fernandi Hierro and Ivan Campo.

“I don’t agree (Allardyce) was old school because he adapted to the personality and the quality of the players we had and that proved successful,” he continued.

“Using the physicality of Kevin Davies and the quality of Jay Jay and Stelios on the second ball, and the great midfielders we had - Campo, Gary Speed, Kevin Nolan. That was the profile of our team.

“He didn’t want us centre-backs to keep the ball more than two or three passes before we go forward.

“We can see a lot of teams now using these strategies to get to the final third as soon as possible, create a stress in the opposition half or 18-yard box and then score goals.”

During his time in the North West, Jaidi also learnt a lot from Big Sam about building a healthy environment off the pitch.

The squad would regularly go out for meals together and the defender was even fined a week’s wages for not attending on one occasion.

“I was meeting the players outside the pitch and the changing room in a different environment - a relaxed and bonding environment,” he recalled.

“You have no idea how much that created a bonding between us. We started to organise that in the same restaurant by ourselves.

“We had a connection with our families, our colleagues and that created that bonding between different nationalities and backgrounds and you can see we transferred it to the pitch.”

He added: “There were big names, but the hardest bit as a coach is to engage these players and that is the quality of Sam. He always looked positive and happy.

“We didn’t see him much in the training ground but he came in on Fridays to do the preparation of the starting 11, the strategy and he was playing much on the psychology.”

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